VICTORIAN dairy farmers do not need a co-operative, according to Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford.
By: KATH SULLIVAN
Source: The Weekly Times
“Our dairy communities’ strong financial and sentimental connection to Murray Goulburn has been seriously tested in recent years,” Ms Pulford said this week.
“Historically, MG played the role of price setter, but that hasn’t been the case for some time.
“I am confident the industry has sufficient strength and diversity to ensure competition for farmgate prices and have formed the view a co-op is no longer the necessity, from either an economic or social perspective that it once was.”
Last week, The Weekly Times revealed MG’s board had rejected a proposal from Fonterra to form a super co-operative in favour of a sale of its assets to Canadian dairy company Saputo.
In parliament, West Victorian MP James Purcell described the “demise of Murray Goulburn as the most important issue in regional Victoria in decades”, and asked Ms Pulford if she had been briefed on the proposal.
She would not comment on MG’s dealings and told parliament it was “an awful thing for everyone to watch the turmoil that has engulfed this once-great Victorian icon”.
Ms Pulford met MG chief executive Ari Mervis last week for a briefing on the company’s sale and is expected to meet Saputo chairman and chief executive officer Lino Saputo in coming weeks.
Mr Purcell said he had been approached by many dairy farmers concerned that without a co-operative they won’t have an “honest broker” to set the farmgate milk price.
“For the betterment of the industry, we need a co-operative,” he said.
The State Government has encouraged the Federal Government to “urge a speedy resolution of the ACCC and Foreign Investment Review Board approval processes so certainty and confidence about the future can be achieved”.